Bay Area Proud

Couple Who Lost All to CZU Fire Still Finding Time, Money to Help Others

NBC Universal, Inc.

More than 100 people gathered in the parking lot of the Berryessa Flea Market in San Jose this past weekend. Their cars, loaded down with donated food and household supplies for farmworkers and their families, were about to caravan 45 miles south to San Juan Bautista.

"It's been a tough year for everyone," the event's organizer, Darlene Tenes, told the socially distanced crowd before they left.

Indeed, many of these volunteers were giving of their time and money in spite of going through some rough times recently.

None, however, have likely been through as much as two volunteers in particular: Taylor and Laurie Santo.

"Even though we have lost everything, it feels like we have a lot," Taylor said.

Taylor is not exagerrating about losing everything.

Two months ago, the CZU Complex fire destroyed the Bonny Doon home that Taylor and Laurie bought 15 years ago and have loved every single day since.

"We had a view," Laurie said. "You could see the whole Monterey Bay from our living room. We had gotten to the point where it was what we had built up over the years and now it's all just flat."

Still, in spite of needing so much themselves, Taylor and Laurie could be found recently piling high a shopping cart inside a nearby Costco. They say it's because there was one thing they had that the fire could not touch: the support of friends and their community.

"We've lost everything, but we're going to be ok," Taylor said. "We feel really blessed and lucky to have the community around us, have the resources we have."

It is just that type of support Taylor and Laurie was to demonstrate to the farmworks.

"The farmworkers always get forgotten as essential workers," Taylor said. "It's important they feel remembered and appreciated."

"We like to give back," Laurie said. "Both of us have come from areas where we didn’t have a lot growing up and we really fought hard to get to where we are today, but we didn’t do it by ourselves. People helped us every step of the way."

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